Boston — Rev. James F. Degnan, 83, passed away suddenly, Sunday, February 10, at Massachusetts General Hospital with his family by his side. He recently celebrated his 58th anniversary of ordination on February 2, 2013.
Born in Lawrence on September 12, 1929, Fr. Jim was one of three children of the late, James T. and Anna (Larose) Degnan. He was raised as a member of St. Patrick Parish, and attended St. Patrick Grammar School. He graduated as a honor roll student from Central Catholic High School with the class of 1947.
Fr. Degnan studied for the priesthood at St. John’s Seminary and was ordained by Archbishop Richard Cushing at Holy Cross Cathedral on Feb. 2, 1955. Between 1955 and 1971 he served as an assistant in three parishes: St. Jerome, Weymouth; St. James, Wellesley, and returned to the place of his ordination, Holy Cross Cathedral as an assistant there from 1963-1971.
He received a fellowship for study at the University of Pittsburgh and on his return to the archdiocese he was named an assistant to Fr. John Boles, his classmate, while serving as a part-time assistant at Sacred Hearts Parish, Malden. He returned again to the Cathedral parish in 1973. He served as principal of the high school from 1973 to 1977 and then as its director of development from 1977 to 1978, while also living at the parish as a technical assistant.
In 1978 he was named associate pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Jamaica Plain, and on Dec. 12, 1980 Cardinal Medeiros named him pastor of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Hopkinton.
Fr. Degnan retired as pastor from St. John the Evangelist Parish in Hopkinton on June 12, 2006 after 27 years of dedicated service. Though he was granted senior priest/retirement status and went on to reside at Regina Cleri in Boston, he continued to minister to the people of St. Patrick Church in Lawrence until his sudden death. While in Hopkinton, Cardinal Law appointed him vicar of the Natick vicariate of the archdiocese in 1988 and in 1994 he had a sabbatical/priestly renewal program at the Pontifical North American College in Rome.
Beyond his devotion to his ministry, Fr. Jim had a love for music and a talent for singing songs such as How Great Thou Art, Ave Maria and O’ Danny Boy among other favorites. He also enjoyed playing golf, and traveling, including several trips to Ireland. He often performed in minstrel shows in Lawrence and Hopkinton with parishioners. Fr. Jim also loved and cherished his time in Hopkinton and his final years in Lawrence and always had a special place in his heart for all the children.
He is survived by his nephews, Leonard J. Degnan Jr. and his wife, Carla M. of North Andover, James T. Degnan of Hampstead, N.H.; nieces, Judith M. Marte and her husband, Hipolito of Pembroke Pines, Fla., Nancy E. Bonugli and her husband, Jay of Tewksbury and Kathleen M. Degnan of Del Ray Beach, Fla.. He is also survived by his sister-in-law, Margaret A. Degnan-Reid of Andover as well as many grandnieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his brother, Leonard J. Degnan Sr. and sister, Jacqueline D. Lawlor.
ARRANGEMENTS: Friends, family and parishioners are invited to pay their respects on Thursday, February 14 from 2-4 p.m. at the Regina Cleri Residence, 60 William Cardinal O’Connell Way, Boston, Friday, February 15 from 3-7 p.m. at St. John the Evangelist Church, 20 Church Street, Hopkinton, and Saturday, February 16 from 9-10:30 a.m. at St. Patrick Church, 118 South Broadway, Lawrence. A mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Saturday, directly following at 11 a.m. in St. Patrick Church. Burial will follow at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in North Andover. In lieu of flowers donations may be made in his memory to The Regina Cleri Residence, 60 William Cardinal O’Connell Way, Boston, MA 02114, or to St. Patrick Church c/o Fr. Paul O’Brein , 118 South Broadway, Lawrence, MA 01843. Arrangements are entrusted to the care of the Dracut Funeral Home. To leave an online condolence, story, or message please visit www.dracutfuneralhome.com